So anyway, two ideas:
1. I think a lot about what a good life is. Almost invariably, for me, a good life is centered around helping others. Growing up, that has always meant other people. It was hard for me to grant the same importance to helping a homeless dog, for instance, as to helping a homeless man or woman. Why is that, I wonder? It might just be a function of my very intense religious upbringing--the fervor of my belief, growing up, in the importance of being Christlike. But I also wonder if it has something to do with a baser element, a very simple, very deep, totally unacknowledged instance of us vs. them. So deep, it's probably written in my DNA. Explained by evolution--the tendency of a species to propagate itself, at the expense of other species. Simple competition. My first excuse is always to go straight to the idea of consciousness--sentience. People are higher on the scale of importance because we feel things more deeply--we have greater sense of awareness-self-awareness as well as awareness of others. But current research on the sophistication of bee communication, ...and other stuff... tends to lead to a different conclusion. Furthermore, granting the helping of other species--even plant, fungi, insect species--the same level of importance as helping people can be attributed to a similar kind of biological self-preservation. It seems, more and more, that science is pointing to the insight John Muir had when he said;
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
It does, however, seem to require an awareness beyond that which most of the human race seems capable. Or at least the fox-news-watching portion of the human race.
2. Ok, second idea, related to the first. That our sky-rocketing human population requires, most likely, a constant re-thinking of the traditional us vs. them. Because the actual physical fact is that we are constantly bumping up against each other much more than we have in millenia past. Centuries past. Hell, even decades past. 7.2 billion people is a fuck-ton of people, is all I'm saying. The booming population, and the physical requirements thereof, in terms of living arrangements, feeding arrangements, transportation, communication, etc., means that each individual human is much more aware of diversity. At least, in the modernized world. We are much more aware that a particular set of human beings was perhaps taught from birth that their religious world-view is the only true religion, and despite having been taught that very thing ourselves, we do need to respect them as people, and try as hard as we can not to commit genocide against them, like we did several centuries ago, because, well, we've acknowledged that that was perhaps not our finest hour. In fact, this much diversity awareness may even result in a large number of us humans concluding that one miniscule little worldview trying to vaunt itself up to exclusive truth claims might be a bad idea, because of the way so many other humans despise and ridicule us on that count...
I mean, ultimately, that rigid, violent boundary maintenance, of the sort the Mormon church seems hell-bent on carrying out, might be a tad out-dated. That's all I'm saying.